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Context

THE MOST INFLUENTIAL WRITER in all of English literature, William Shakespeare was born
in 1564 to a -successful middle-class glover in Stratford-upon-Avon, England.
As You Like It was most likely written around 1598–1600, during the last years of Elizabeth’s
reign. The play belongs to the literary tradition known as pastoral: which has its roots in the
literature of ancient Greece, came into its own in Roman antiquity with Virgil’s Eclogues, and
continued as a vital literary mode through Shakespeare’s time and long after. Typically, a pastoral
story involves exiles from urban or court life who flee to the refuge of the countryside, where
they often disguise themselves as shepherds in order to converse with other shepherds on a range
of established topics, from the relative merits of life at court versus life in the country to the
relationship between nature and art. The most fundamental concern of the pastoral mode is
comparing the worth of the natural world, represented by relatively untouched countryside, to the
world built by humans, which contains the joys of art and the city as well as the injustices of
rigid social hierarchies. Pastoral literature, then, has great potential to serve as a forum for social
criticism and can even inspire social reform.
In general, Shakespeare’s As You Like It develops many of the traditional features and concerns
of the pastoral genre. This comedy examines the cruelties and corruption of court life and
gleefully pokes holes in one of humankind’s greatest artifices: the conventions of romantic love.
The play’s investment in pastoral traditions leads to an indulgence in rather simple rivalries:
court versus country, realism versus romance, reason versus mindlessness, nature versus fortune,
young versus old, and those who are born into nobility versus those who acquire their social
standing. But rather than settle these scores by coming down on one side or the other, As You
Like It offers up a world of myriad choices and endless possibilities. In the world of this play, no
one thing need cancel out another. In this way, the play manages to offer both social critique and
social affirmation. It is a play that at all times stresses the complexity of things, the simultaneous
pleasures and pains of being human.

Meanwhile. and property befitting a gentleman. disguised as Ganymede and Aliena. while Celia dresses as a common shepherdess and calls herself Aliena. only to have his faithful servant Adam warn him about Oliver’s plot against Orlando’s life. Duke Frederick allows Senior’s daughter. arrives to warn Oliver of a rumor that Orlando will challenge Charles to a fight on the following day. which delights Oliver. Charles vows to pummel Orlando. where he lives like Robin Hood with a band of loyal followers. too. She. To ensure the safety of their journey. the duke orders Oliver to lead the manhunt. Duke Frederick is furious at his daughter’s disappearance. Out of pure spite. Orlando and Rosalind instantly fall in love with one another. Adam. arrive in the forest and meet a lovesick young shepherd named Silvius who pines away for the disdainful Phoebe. Although Sir Rowland has instructed Oliver to take good care of his brother. Duke Frederick has a change of heart regarding Rosalind and banishes her from court. Orlando decides to leave for the safety of Ardenne. decides to flee to the Forest of Ardenne and leaves with Celia. and the women witness Orlando’s defeat of the court wrestler. and. Orlando returns home from the wrestling match. but Oliver convinces the wrestler that Orlando is a dishonorable sportsman who will take whatever dastardly means necessary to win. Orlando. Charles. Duke Senior has been usurped of his throne by his brother. when he learns that the young man is the son of his dear former friend. according to the custom of primogeniture. Duke Frederick. accepts him into his company. he denies Orlando the education. and Touchstone. The two women purchase a modest cottage. Rosalind assumes the dress of a young man and takes the name Ganymede. Rosalind and Celia. barges in on the duke’s camp and rudely demands that they not eat until he is given food. When he learns that the flight of his daughter and niece coincides with the disappearance of Orlando. Frederick also decides it is time to destroy his brother once and for all and begins to raise an army. the court jester. threatening to confiscate Oliver’s lands and property should he fail. a wrestler from the court of Duke Frederick. Orlando confides . Duke Senior calms Orlando and. Celia. Rosalind. who cannot bear to be without Rosalind. Without warning. Oliver. He praises the simple life among the trees. the vast majority of his estate has passed into the possession of his eldest son. and has fled to the Forest of Ardenne. Taking her to be a young man.Plot Overview Sir Rowland de Bois has recently died. though Rosalind keeps this fact a secret from everyone but Celia. Orlando. to remain at court because of her inseparable friendship with his own daughter. Duke Senior lives in the Forest of Ardenne with a band of lords who have gone into voluntary exile. The day arrives when Orlando is scheduled to fight Charles. Fearing censure if he should beat a nobleman. Oliver refuses to do so. exhausted by travel and desperate to find food for his starving companion. happy to be absent from the machinations of court life. and soon enough Rosalind runs into the equally lovesick Orlando. training. Charles begs Oliver to intervene.

Celia and Oliver. a goatherd he intends to marry. and the two soon return as themselves. the god of marriage. and a promise from the duke that he would allow his daughter to marry Orlando if she were available. if Ganymede will ever marry a woman. and she makes everyone pledge to meet the next day at the wedding. and the love lessons begin. Rosalind decides to end the charade. Rosalind. disguised as Ganymede. Phoebe becomes increasingly insistent in her pursuit of Ganymede. Rosalind leaves with the disguised Celia. Phoebe and Silvius. and Orlando. Meanwhile. Oliver and Celia. Celia and Oliver. Rosalind. Touchstone and Audrey. and Rosalind gathers the various couples: Phoebe and Silvius. The group congregates before Duke Senior and his men. and Audrey and Touchstone. Phoebe becomes increasingly cruel in her rejection of Silvius. -Frederick changes his ways and returns the throne to Duke Senior. fall instantly in love and agree to marry. then secures a promise from Phoebe that if for some reason she refuses to marry Ganymede she will marry Silvius. The day of the wedding arrives. As time passes. reminds the lovers of their various vows. The festive wedding celebration is interrupted by even more festive news: while marching with his army to attack Duke Senior. Phoebe falls hopelessly in love with Ganymede. One day. Duke Frederick came upon a holy man who convinced him to put aside his worldly concerns and assume a monastic life. Oliver describes how Orlando stumbled upon him in the forest and saved him from being devoured by a hungry lioness.in Rosalind that his affections are overpowering him. and Orlando grows tired of pretending that a boy is his dear Rosalind. They all agree. reacting to her infatuation with Orlando. When Rosalind intervenes. The guests continue dancing. Rosalind. claims to be an expert in exorcising such emotions and promises to cure Orlando of lovesickness if he agrees to pretend that Ganymede is Rosalind and promises to come woo her every day. accompanied by Hymen. as Ganymede. still disguised as Ganymede. still disguised as the shepherdess Aliena. Orlando agrees. happy in the knowledge that they will soon return to the royal court. She promises that Ganymede will wed Phoebe. Orlando fails to show up for his tutorial with Ganymede. is distraught until Oliver appears. Hymen officiates at the ceremony and marries Rosalind and Orlando. .

and instead resolves to assume a solitary and contemplative life in a monastery. it is fitting that Jaques alone refuses to follow Duke Senior and the other courtiers back to court. where he claims to learn as much from stones and brooks as he would in a church or library. Orlando . for instance. has languished without a gentleman’s education or training. Content in the forest. Duke Senior proves himself to be a kind and fair-minded ruler. Jaques is an example of a stock figure in Elizabethan comedy. Rosalind resourcefully uses her trip to the Forest of Ardenne as an opportunity to take control of her own destiny. the man possessed of a hopelessly melancholy disposition. He is a fitting hero for the play and. We have the sense that Senior did not put up much of a fight to keep his dukedom. the most obvious romantic match for Rosalind. for he seems to make the most of whatever life gives him. She teaches those around her to think. Frederick.The daughter of Duke Senior. though he proves no match for her wit or poetry. Regardless. and she ensures that the courtiers returning from Ardenne are far gentler than those who fled to it. he stands on the sidelines. Much like a referee in a football game. he considers himself to have great potential. is both aware of the foolishness of romantic love and delighted to be in love. Jaques . proving himself a proper gentleman. is independent minded. Orlando is an attractive young man who. Rosalind’s talents and charms are on full display. considered one of Shakespeare’s most delightful heroines. Rosalind. Duke Senior now lives in exile in the Forest of Ardenne with a number of loyal men. strong-willed. Having been banished by his usurping brother. and terribly clever. under his brother’s neglectful care. and his victorious battle with Charles proves him right.The father of Rosalind and the rightful ruler of the dukedom in which the play is set. including Lord Amiens and Jaques. watching and judging the actions of the other characters without ever fully participating.The youngest son of Sir Rowland de Bois and younger brother of Oliver. Only Rosalind. and love better than they have previously. When she disguises herself as Ganymede—a handsome young man—and offers herself as a tutor in the ways of love to her beloved Orlando. Duke Senior .A faithful lord who accompanies Duke Senior into exile in the Forest of Ardenne. feel. Rather than slink off into defeated exile. Given his inability to participate in life. . good-hearted. Orlando cares for the aging Adam in the Forest of Ardenne and later risks his life to save Oliver from a hungry lioness.Character List Rosalind .

where Orlando saves his life. Oliver is a loveless young man who begrudges his brother. This display of undeserved generosity prompts Oliver to change himself into a better. Celia assumes the disguise of a simple shepherdess and calls herself Aliena. Conforming to the model of Petrarchan love.The daughter of Duke Frederick and Rosalind’s dearest friend. Celia’s devotion to Rosalind is unmatched. Lord Amiens . Silvius prostrates himself before a woman who refuses to return his affections. dedicating himself to a monastic life and returning the crown to his brother. who is really Rosalind in disguise. He admits to hating Orlando without cause or reason and goes to great lengths to ensure his brother’s downfall. almost excessive emotions. Oliver . To make the trip. thus testifying to the ease and elegance with which humans can sometimes change for the better. from court without reason.The brother of Duke Senior and usurper of his throne. That Celia. When Duke Frederick employs Oliver to find his missing brother. She falls in love with Ganymede. his own daughter. Duke Frederick’s cruel nature and volatile temper are displayed when he banishes his niece. Almost every line he speaks echoes with bawdy innuendo. cannot mitigate his unfounded anger demonstrates the intensity of the duke’s hatefulness. but Rosalind tricks Phoebe into marrying Silvius.A young shepherdess. but is prone to deep. whom he takes to be a simple shepherdess. Phoebe . Charles demonstrates both his caring nature and his political savvy when he asks Oliver to intercede in his upcoming fight with . however. Celia possesses a loving heart. as evidenced by her decision to follow her cousin into exile.A professional wrestler in Duke Frederick’s court.A young.A faithful lord who accompanies Duke Senior into exile in the Forest of Ardenne. is to criticize the behavior and point out the folly of those around him. Duke Frederick .The oldest son of Sir Rowland de Bois and sole inheritor of the de Bois estate.Celia . Next to his mistress. Charles . whom she marries at the end of the play. Touchstone . Lord Amiens is rather jolly and loves to sing. more loving person. who is desperately in love with the disdainful Phoebe. As elucidated by her extreme love of Rosalind and her immediate devotion to Oliver. Oliver finds himself living in despair in the Forest of Ardenne. In the end. He immediately changes his ways. His transformation is evidenced by his love for the disguised Celia. Frederick mounts an army against his exiled brother but aborts his vengeful mission after he meets an old religious man on the road to the Forest of Ardenne. as fool. Orlando.A clown in Duke Frederick’s court who accompanies Rosalind and Celia in their flight to Ardenne. a gentleman’s education. suffering shepherd. Touchstone fails to do so with even a fraction of Rosalind’s grace. he wins the object of his desire. Silvius . Although Touchstone’s job. who disdains the affections of Silvius. Rosalind. the clown seems hopelessly vulgar and narrow-minded.

and the fullness of her character that no one else in the play matches up to her. seem rather dull whenever Rosalind takes the stage. and enemy of Duke Frederick.A simpleminded goatherd who agrees to marry Touchstone. if unskilled. So fully realized is she in the complexity of her emotions. Adam . He is a model of loyalty and devoted service. Sir Rowland de Bois . Upon Sir Rowland’s death. William . strong. the observations of Touchstone and Jaques.The father of Oliver and Orlando. yet still we feel that Rosalind settles for someone slightly less magnificent when she chooses him as her mate. poet. Charles’s concern for Orlando proves unwarranted when Orlando beats him senseless. who refuses to participate wholly in life but has much to say about the foolishness of those who surround him. Orlando is handsome. Audrey . and an affectionate. Analysis of Major Characters Rosalind Rosalind dominates As You Like It. but Silvius refuses to listen. the subtlety of her thought. But unlike Jaques. the vast majority of his estate was handed over to Oliver according to the custom of primogeniture. Corin attempts to counsel his friend Silvius in the ways of love. Corin . Having witnessed Orlando’s hardships.A shepherd.The elderly former servant of Sir Rowland de Bois. Similarly. friend of Duke Senior. Rosalind gives herself .Orlando: he does not want to injure the young man and thereby lose favor among the nobles who support him.A young country boy who is in love with Audrey. The endless appeal of watching Rosalind has much to do with her success as a knowledgeable and charming critic of herself and others. Adam offers not only to accompany his young master into exile but to fund their journey with the whole of his modest life’s savings. who might shine more brightly in another play.

In the beginning of the play. Oliver. he risks his life to save the brother who has plotted against him. given the fullness of Rosalind’s character. in the end. it is an apt and generous picture of the hero of As You Like It. But next to Rosalind. Her emergence as an actor in the Epilogue assures that theatergoers. as he demonstrates when he argues with Jaques. but an Elizabethan audience might have felt a certain amount of anxiety regarding her behavior. like the Ardenne foresters. Thus.262–263). though he does not possess Rosalind’s wit and insight. Orlando is of noble character. and you shall see him. but by the end. Orlando’s imagination burns a bit less bright. As his love tutorial shows. Orlando performs tasks that reveal his nobility and demonstrate why he is so well-loved: he travels with the ancient Adam and makes a fool out of himself to secure the old man food. irresistible. are about to exit a somewhat enchanted realm and return to the familiar world they left behind. But because they leave having learned the same lessons from Rosalind. he cannot help but violate the many trees of Ardenne with testaments of his love for Rosalind. Shakespeare clearly intends his audience to delight in the match. With boldness and imagination. Orlando According to his brother. That Rosalind can play both sides of any field makes her identifiable to nearly everyone. unschooled yet somehow learned. Look but in. he laments that his brother has denied him the schooling deserved by a gentleman. Jaques . declaring that without the fair Rosalind. Although this description comes from the one character who hates Orlando and wishes him harm.over fully to circumstance. There is endless comic appeal in Rosalind’s lampooning of the conventions of both male and female behavior. however. suggesting that Jaques should seek out a fool who wanders about the forest: “He is drowned in the brook. and loved by people of all ranks as if he had enchanted them (I.i. he would die. Rosalind dispenses with the charade of her own character. but still she comes undone by her lover’s inconsequential tardiness and faints at the sight of his blood.” meaning that Jaques will see a fool in his own reflection (III. and so. full of noble purposes. Rosalind is a particular favorite among feminist critics. This upstaging is no fault of Orlando’s. He does have a decent wit. After all. who admire her ability to subvert the limitations that society imposes on her as a woman. and she challenges Orlando’s thoughtless equation of Rosalind with a Platonic ideal. he has proven himself a gentleman without the formality of that education. Time and again. he relies on commonplace clichés in matters of love.141– 144). She chastises Silvius for his irrational devotion to Phoebe. the structure of a male-dominated society depends upon both men and women acting in their assigned roles.ii. they do so with the same potential to make that world a less punishing place. attentive lover—a tutorship that would not be welcome from a woman. Orlando has a brave and generous spirit. she disguises herself as a young man for the majority of the play in order to woo the man she loves and instruct him in how to be a more accomplished.

his musings strike us as banal.164–165). the absolute best one can hope for is consensus.vii. for instance. sans everything” than Orlando’s aged servant. It also betrays a small but inevitable crack in the community that dances through the forest.” and the criticism that flows forth will “Cleanse the foul body of th’infected world” (II. will “Give me leave / To speak my mind. Jaques determines that he will follow the reformed Duke Frederick into the monastery. the play makes good on the promise of its title: everyone gets just what he or she wants.vii. Themes. Such a position.vii. Rosalind criticizes in order to transform the world—to make Orlando a more reasonable husband and Phoebe a less disdainful lover—whereas Jaques is content to stew in his own melancholy. and his undiminished integrity (II. It is appropriate that Jaques decides not to return to court. he is more like an aspiring fool than a professional one.58–60). In a world as complex and full of so many competing forces as the one portrayed in As You Like It. sans eyes. Jaques believes that his melancholy makes him the perfect candidate to be Duke Senior’s fool. but the play itself casts doubt on the ideas expressed in this speech (II. enters. Adam. Jaques’s refusal to resume life in the dukedom not only confirms our impression of his character. bearing with him his loyalty. In fact. Motifs & Symbols Themes . but also resonates with larger issues in the play.138). Jaques’s own faculties as a critic of the goings-on around him are considerably diminished in comparison to Rosalind. Duke Senior is rightly cautious about installing Jaques as the fool. While the other characters merrily revel. Jaques lacks the keenness of insight of Shakespeare’s most accomplished jesters: he is not as penetrating as Twelfth Night’s Feste or King Lear’s fool. sans taste. / Sans teeth. His “All the world’s a stage” speech is famous today. he claims. who understands so much more and conveys her understanding with superior grace and charm.Jaques delights in being sad—a disparate role in a play that so delights in happiness. but never complete unanimity. Indeed. When Jaques philosophizes on the seven stages of human life. No sooner does Jaques insist that man spends the final stages of his life in “mere oblivion. Here. fearing that Jaques would do little more than excoriate the sins that Jaques himself has committed. his incomparable service. where he believes the converts have much to teach him.

vii. and worms have eaten them. indeed. As You Like It breaks with the courtly love tradition by portraying love as a force for happiness and fulfillment and ridicules those who revel in their own suffering. Rosalind does not mean to disparage love.Themes are the fundamental and often universal ideas explored in a literary work.31–32). which greatly influenced European literature for hundreds of years before Shakespeare’s time. she displays her own copious knowledge of the ways of love. By the end of the play.” she argues against the notion that love concerns the perfect. or unattainable (IV. but these laments are all unconvincing and ridiculous. having successfully orchestrated four marriages and ensured the happy and peaceful return of a more just government. in which she implores her cousin to allow “the full weight” of her love to push aside Rosalind’s unhappy thoughts (I. or the assumption that the male lover is the slave or servant of his mistress. As soon as Rosalind takes to Ardenne. and a wise civic leader. These ideas are central features of the courtly love tradition. Rosalind proves that love is a source of incomparable delight. and then. such as the idea that love is a disease that brings suffering and torment to the lover. Disguised as Ganymede. While Orlando’s metrically incompetent poems conform to the notion that he should “live and die [Rosalind’s] slave. But Silvius’s request for Phoebe’s attention implies that the enslaved lover can loosen the chains of love and that all romantic wounds can be healed—otherwise. and. When Rosalind famously insists that “[m]en have died from time to time. Jaques’s speech remains an eloquent commentary on how quickly and thoroughly human beings can change. characters lament the suffering caused by their love. Jaques philosophizes on the stages of human life: man passes from infancy into boyhood. counsels Silvius against prostrating himself for the sake of the all-too-human Phoebe. both of whom have keen eyes and biting tongues trained on the follies of romance. mythic. do change in As You Like It. scene vii. In As You Like It. The Malleability of the Human Experience In Act II.91–92). but can bring delight as well. On the contrary. assumes the role of the tortured lover.Whether physically. she seeks to teach a version of love that not only can survive in the real world. becomes a bit more foolish until he is returned to his “second childishness and mere oblivion” (II.164). but not for love.” these sentiments are roundly ridiculed (III.142). year by year.ii. his request for notice would be pointless. Even Silvius.ii.v. she tutors Orlando in how to be a more attentive and caring lover.i. and scolds Phoebe for her arrogance in playing the shepherd’s disdainful love object. the untutored shepherd. . Unlike Jaques and Touchstone. asking his beloved Phoebe to notice “the wounds invisible / That love’s keen arrows make” (III. a soldier.6). The Delights of Love As You Like It spoofs many of the conventions of poetry and literature dealing with love. becomes a lover. Celia speaks to the curative powers of love in her introductory scene with Rosalind. In general.

or even matter. Later in that scene. Orlando. while the class structures inherent in court life promise to be somewhat less rigid after the courtiers sojourn in the forest. In As You Like It.99–103).i. in turn. as Charles relates the whereabouts of Duke Senior and his followers. and that a person’s sense of balance and rightness can be restored by conversations with uncorrupted shepherds and shepherdesses. Although Shakespeare tests the bounds of these conventions—his shepherdess Audrey. more impressive. of course. is putty in her hands. capable of making the most of urban life. The most dramatic and unmistakable change. many are healed in the forest—the lovesick are coupled with their lovers and the usurped duke returns to his throne— but Shakespeare reminds us that life in Ardenne is a temporary affair. for instance. . Furthermore. will be more just under the rightful ruler Duke Senior. these transformations have much to do with the restorative. Rosalind demonstrates how vulnerable to change men and women truly are. is neither articulate nor pure—he begins As You Like It by establishing the city/country dichotomy on which the pastoral mood depends. Indeed. the play does not laud country over city or vice versa. As You Like It not only insists that people can and do change. Orlando rails against the injustices of life with Oliver and complains that he “know[s] no wise remedy how to avoid it” (I. but it also creates the need for urban style and sophistication: one would not do. but the consequences of the changes also matter in the real world: the government that rules the French duchy. without the other. as they did in the golden world” (I. Shakespeare dispenses with the time--consuming and often hard-won processes involved in change. As the characters prepare to return to life at court. it suggests that the oppressions of the city can be remedied by a trip into the country’s therapeutic woods and fields. The characters do not struggle to become more pliant—their changes are instantaneous. In Act I. is her ability to manipulate Phoebe’s affections. the vengeful and ambitious Duke Frederick abandons all thoughts of fratricide after a single conversation with a religious old man. .i. This type of restoration. for example. of course. The simplicity of the forest provides shelter from the strains of the court. scene i. but also celebrates their ability to change for the better. . occurs when Rosalind assumes the disguise of Ganymede. almost magical effects of life in the forest. for instance.20–21). As a young man. fleet the time carelessly. the remedy is clear: “in the forest of Ardenne . Often. however. many young gentlemen . which move from Ganymede to the once despised Silvius with amazing speed. . those who enter the Forest of Ardenne are often remarkably different when they leave. These social reforms are a clear improvement and result from the more private reforms of the play’s characters. or spiritually. but instead suggests a delicate and necessary balance between the two. learns to love both his brother Orlando and a disguised Celia within moments of setting foot in the forest. . enables one to return to the city a better person. Oliver. Certainly. City Life Versus Country Life Pastoral literature thrives on the contrast between life in the city and life in the country.emotionally.

Motifs Motifs are recurring structures. Here. for instance. During the Epilogue. but of her character as well. young boy Ganymede—almost as if a boy who looks like the woman he loves is even more appealing . the beautiful boy who looks like a woman because he is really Rosalind in disguise. traditionally belonged to a beautiful boy who became one of Jove’s lovers.As You Like Itexplores different kinds of love between members of the same sex. Although Rosalind is susceptible to the contrivances of romantic love. and Rosalind similarly puts a stop to Orlando’s romantic fussing when she reminds him that “[m]en have died from time to time. seems to love Ganymede. Everybody.125–127).i. But to assume that Celia or Rosalind possesses a sexual identity as clearly defined as our modern understandings of heterosexual orhomosexual would be to work against the play’s celebration of a range of intimacies and sexual possibilities. and as Silvius pines for Phoebe and compares her cruel eyes to a murderer. The name Rosalind chooses for her alter ego. Rosalind cautions against any love that sustains itself on artifice alone. The other kind of homoeroticism within the play arises from Rosalind’s cross-dressing. are extremely close friends —almost sisters—and the profound intimacy of their relationship seems at times more intense than that of ordinary friends. and the name carries strong homosexual connotations. he seems to enjoy the idea of acting out his romance with the beautiful. Celia and Rosalind. she does her best to move herself and the others toward a more realistic understanding of love. Even though Orlando is supposed to be in love with Rosalind. scenes ii and iii echo the protestations of lovers. Knowing that the excitement of the first days of courtship will flag. but the sky changes when they are wives” (IV. The theater becomes Ardenne. Rosalind returns the audience to reality by stripping away not only the artifice of Ardenne. or literary devices that can help to develop and inform the text’s major themes. she warns Orlando that “[m]aids are May when they are maids.i. Indeed. and worms have eaten them. while delightful. contrasts. Artifice As Orlando runs through the forest decorating every tree with love poems for Rosalind. we cannot help but notice the importance of artifice to life in Ardenne. Homoeroticism Like many of Shakespeare’s plays and poems.91–92). male and female. but not for love” (IV. Ganymede. the audience’s experience comes to mirror the experience of the characters. the artful means of edifying us for our journey into the world in which we live. Celia’s words in Act I. She advocates a love that. can survive in the real world. as when her composure crumbles when Orlando is only minutes late for their appointment. As the Elizabethan actor stands on the stage and reflects on this temporary foray into the unreal. Phoebe decries such artificiality when she laments that her eyes lack the power to do the devoted shepherd any real harm.

say. is the same community that will return to the dukedom in order to rule and be ruled. Celia. such as Duke Senior. In drawing on the motif of homoeroticism. Celia. which typically contains elements of same-sex love.4–5). such as Senior’s loyal band of lords. and so bring into sharp focus the silliness of which all lovers are guilty. and Orlando. Instead. The sense of restoration with which the play ends depends upon the formation of a community of exiles in politics and love coming together to soothe their various wounds. Some characters have been forcibly removed or threatened from their homes. In the Forest of Ardenne. as the title of the play suggests. or colors used to represent abstract ideas or concepts. homosexual and heterosexual love exist on a continuum across which. homoerotic relationships are not necessarily antithetical to heterosexual couplings. as modern readers tend to assume. and Touchstone. Orlando’s Poems The poems that Orlando nails to the trees of Ardenne are a testament to his love for Rosalind. characters. then. and the noble servant Adam. It is. Rosalind. Phoebe. Orlando’s efforts are far less accomplished than.than the woman herself. Symbols Symbols are objects. This event. Orlando’s “tedious homil[ies] of love” stand as a reminder of the wide gap that exists between the fancies of literature and the kind of love that exists in the real world (III. Silvius. scene ii. Ovid’s.ii. too. as in pastoral literature. the slain deer would have signaled more than just an . Exile As You Like It abounds in banishment. To an Elizabethan audience.ii. Lucretia— Orlando takes his place among a long line of poets who regard the love object as a bit of earthbound perfection.143). one can move as one likes. scene iv. where the poor dance in the company of royalty. Some have voluntarily abandoned their positions out of a sense of rightness. The community that sings and dances its way through Ardenne at the close of Act V. rather remarkable that the play ends with four marriages—a ceremony that unites individuals into couples and ushers these couples into the community. Jaques proposes to “set the deer’s horns upon [the hunter’s] head for a branch of victory” (IV. Cleopatra. however. Jaques and other lords in Duke Senior’s party kill a deer. The Slain Deer In Act IV. As You Like It is influenced by the pastoral tradition. figures. suggests a utopian world in which wrongs can be righted and hurts healed. Much to the amusement of Rosalind. In comparing her to the romantic heroines of classical literature—Helen. is more attracted to the feminine Ganymede than to the real male.

In the context of the play. Allusions to the cuckolded man run throughout the play. commonly represented by a man with horns atop his head. the deer placed atop the hunter’s head is a symbol of cuckoldry.accomplished archer. As the song that follows the lord’s return to camp makes clear. . her choice of an alter ego contributes to a continuum of sexual possibilities. betraying one of the dominant anxieties of the age—that women are sexually uncontrollable—and pointing out the schism between ideal and imperfect love. Ganymede is the cupbearer and beloved of Jove and is a standard symbol of homosexual love. Ganymede Rosalind’s choice of alternative identities is significant.

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